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Copywriting Markets: B2C, B2B, and the Difference It Makes

Good copywriting services can do magical things.

In the time it takes a reader to scan a page of text, well-crafted copy can turn a prospect into a qualified lead—or convert a qualified lead into a lifelong customer.

More importantly, it can bury those guys in you client’s Accounting Department—the ones who said your new marketing plan was nothing but a cost sink—under a mountain of revenue so deep, it will take them a month of overtime just to mark all the invoices “paid.”

Good copy is a beautiful thing. Except when it doesn’t work.

And make no mistake, even the best copywriting won’t work if it is written with the wrong customer in mind.

While it is possible to segment markets almost infinitely, when you stop to think about it, a copywriter can only target two basic types of customers: consumers and businesses. The most successful copywriters embrace the differences between writing for the business-to-consumer (B2C) and business–to-business markets (B2B) and allow this knowledge guide their work.

B2C Copywriting

Most copywriters cut their teeth learning to sell to consumers. Once they have a product to sell, they take the time to learn who their audience is and what motivates them. Using revered tools like the AIDA formula (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action), they pique the reader’s curiosity, show him how a product can benefit him, and use a compelling call to action to get him to take the next step towards a purchase.

If the B2C process seems straightforward, it’s because B2C buying cycle is rather cut and dried: An individual consumer, in complete control of his funds and accountable to no one else, learns about a product, weighs its potential impact on his life, and makes a purchase decision. He does not consult a committee, and he does not need approval from the company comptroller.

B2B Copywriting

Contrast this to B2B copywriting. While it can be quite lucrative, it is also more complex than selling to individuals.

Because the stakes are higher, a business’s buying cycle will be longer than an individual’s, so the copywriter’s message must command attention and stoke desire over a greater period of time.

The successful B2B copywriter must move a message through the corporate ranks until it reaches and convinces someone with the power to approve the purchase. That person knows she will be accountable for how the funds are used and needs to feel guaranteed the purchase will result in greater lower operating costs or higher profits.

When the successful B2B copywriter identifies potential corporate buyers, she may need to target pitches to several positions inside those companies at once. For example, she might want the President or CEO to get behind her product, but she realizes that may not happen without buy-in from VP of Sales or the Head of R&D. This means that she must produce and deliver a wide variety of materials targeted to different levels of the organizational chart simultaneously in order to make the sale. Unlike B2C sales tools, the B2B materials she produces will also need to include more technical product detail.

A post this size can only scratch the surface of what it takes to sell to both consumers and corporations. For those moving from B2C copywriting into the B2B market, the differences can sometimes seem overwhelming. Relax. You’re still selling to people, and all your B2C techniques will still come in handy. You just have a little homework to do. In time, B2B copy will become second nature.

Matthew R is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.

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